Shadows as solid as arms danced across the hallway that Artemis and Raziel had been fighting in. Their attempt to rescue Luna had been sorely delayed by these two combatants, who had obviously been using a hit-and-run strategy in order to exhaust the pair. Raziel, as well, began to succumb to exhaustion slightly as he blocked yet another one of Lennart's weak strikes, before taking a few steps backwards.
"Raziel!" Artemis shouted, batting away another shadow fist with the back of his palm as the two mages stood back-to-back in the situation. "We're surrounded and we're wasting way too much time. What do we do?" Artemis asked the almost wise canine, all the while gritting his teeth in irritation.
"One of us has to move forward." Raziel concluded, his paws shuffling backwards slightly. "We've got no other choice." Raziel's teeth bit into his dagger just that little bit more.
"I can handle these two, you -!?" Artemis was about to conclude as he was suddenly interrupted by Raziel's claws scratching his feet. "Oi! What was that for!?" He groaned in pain, realizing that both Ariel and Lennart had been carefully watching them this entire time.
"Looks like I finally get to release this curse." Raziel smirked, stabbing his dagger on the ground despite being in a rather perilous situation.
"You don't mean...?" Artemis asked, despite knowing full well what Raziel's intentions were.
"Oh, I do. Looks like the curse has weakened to the point where I can break it with a single outburst. Of course...I'll never truly be "Raziel" again." Raziel told Artemis, almost with a solemn look in his eyes as he did so.
"Heh, you're always gonna be Raziel, idiot!" Artemis exclaimed, as he suddenly drew four fire runes, creating four fireballs which proceeded to surround Artemis and Raziel, exploding and giving Artemis the cover necessary to escape. "Have fun!" Artemis shouted, waving his hand as he began to run towards the next door.
Lennart, instantly realizing what was going on, attempted to follow him but to no avail, the flames were far too strong for the young man to go through unharmed. However, what piqued his interest was a sudden spike in magical power coming from the epicenter of these flames. "Is this the dog...?" He thought, as his suspicions were confirmed.
A large column of sky blue magical energy erupted from the center of the flames, creating a shockwave of power strong enough to douse the flames with ease as a man stood in the center. The true form of Raziel had finally taken the stage.
His eyes were a light blue, yet they boasted the ferocity of a wolf as he stared deeply into the heart of Lennart, causing him to collapse under the sheer pressure of his Magical Aura. Finally, his full figure had been revealed. A short mane of blue hair and a body only covered by a pair of loose-fitting white pants, revealing a scarred torso, Ariel's eyes widened as she recognized the man's identity. "The Sky Wolf...Ragna Nightingale!?"
"Heh, a little lady like you knows me?" The man, now identified as Ragna placed his left arm in front of his right, claws stretched and fingers clenched. "I'm flattered!" He shouted, provoking his enemies to come at him with full force with nothing more than a release of pressure from his being.
Glimpse of the Past
Artemis ran across the large corridor that seemed to be suffused with an incredible amount of magical energy, made possible through the extreme number of Lacrima lighting it. He looked around and almost felt weakened by the pressure, forcing him to release a small aura to keep himself stable. "Tch, these Dark Guilds and their annoying tactics..."
As he ran, however, another figure's shadow swept across the floor in front of him, forcing Artemis' eyes to be shot open as he instantly recognized the face before him. "...Lloyd!?" Artemis, in response to the man's sudden presence, cringed as his forehead tensed under annoyance. He clenched his left fist and, as he was charging towards him, intended on punching the man in the face.
"Long time no see...Artemis." The man's voice was surprisingly serious despite the endeavors of their last encounter, made even clearer when he brushed aside the fist with his palm, forcing it to make contact with the wall and put cracks in the fortified material. "Your physical strength hasn't waned...even if your memory has."
"...You're not Lloyd..." Artemis spoke, almost hesitantly. The sudden shift in Lloyd's persona caused him to be unnerved, forcing him to use the wall as propulsion to perform a backflip and retain some distance between the two. "Who are you!?"
"You're right, I'm not Lloyd. That guy was just a pretense I took to observe you." Lloyd spoke in a tone that suggested he was very familiar to Artemis, although the lack of emotion in his expression quickly showed that it wasn't good familiarity.
"...Your voice...where have I heard it?" Artemis looked upon him, puzzled. However, he knew he had to be cautious, and thus chanelled magic into his palms as precaution.
"Oh, you're not as dumb as you look, are you, Rezzo?" Lloyd responded sarcastically, with a look that exuded sheer disappointment.
"No...you're...Aster!? Aster Crowley?!" Artemis' face was in shock. This man...he knew him! He was a former member of Fūzetsu!
"Huh, you acknowledge my existence. How funny." Lloyd, now known as Aster, stated, chuckling in response to Artemis' shock. "You must be wondering how I lived, right? You know...after we hopelessly sacrificed ourselves to protect you?"
Artemis clenched his fist tighter and closed his eyes. Those memories came back and haunted him once again. A girl in pink hair...and her last smile.
"Snap out of it." Aster harshly said, forcing Artemis back into reality. "You might have forgotten, but I employ a certain type of Lost Magic, the very Lost Magic that can house entire worlds within it for temporary periods of time. Yes, the Arc of Void."
"But...why didn't you reveal yourself sooner!?" Artemis shouted, "Do you know what I've -!?" Artemis was immediately interrupted by Aster grabbing him by the throat and lifting him upward.
"What you've been through? What you've been through!? Don't be ridiculous! You know nothing!" He threw Artemis towards the wall that he previously made a dent in, further causing damage to it as Artemis screamed in pain.
"Tch, so terribly weak...it's pitiful." Aster sighed, before he proceeded to begin leaving. "You're so weak that even explaining things won't give me the satisfaction I require. I'm leaving. Before long, Desperados will be eradicated...if you lot don't get your act together, that is."
Artemis struggled to stand after he dropped onto the ground follow, however, as he saw Aster leave and heard his last words, his anger caused his energy to rise indiscriminately, forcing him to stand up. "Oi, Aster, you bastard!" Artemis pointed at the man walking away, "You dare touch my Guild and I'll rip you to shreds, understand!?"
Aster smirked, turning his head slightly in response. "We'll see, Rezzo." Suddenly, Aster was covered in a golden aura, before shooting through the roof of the building and away from the general vicinity.
Artemis, on the other hand, punched the wall once more. "Sobbing comes later, Artemis!" He told himself, as he saw the large, black door with a dark green snake pattern all across it. The mage knew exactly where he was. He took a deep breath, before kicking the door down with his right leg.
The door fell down, making contact with the ground and sending dust everywhere around it. Behind it sat Albion Trevelyan, the instigator behind this conflict. In his regal, cocky demeanor he slowly opened his eyes and analyzed Artemis. "Hmph, a boy's come to greet me? How lovely."
"Greet you?" Artemis laughed, "You old fool." Artemis suddenly turned serious, emitting an aura of bright gold magical energy from his being. "I'm going to make your life Hell!"